Continuing the drama over current and future leadership of the company, Viacom Chairman/CEO Philippe Dauman and four other members were ousted from the firm’s board of directors Thursday by entertainment mogul Sumner Redstone.
Redstone’s National Amusements Inc., parent company of Viacom and CBS Corp., announced that Dauman, George S. Abrams, Blythe McGarvie, Frederic Salerno and William Schwartz had been removed from the board and replaced. National Amusements also filed court papers in Delaware to “affirm the validity and effectiveness” of the move. The court action was filed “because of public statements by the existing directors that they would challenge any removals.”
The appointees to the 11-member board are:
— Kenneth Lerer, chairman of Buzzfeed and co-founder of The Huffington Post;
— Thomas May, chairman of Eversource Energy;
— Judith McHale, president/CEO of Cane Investments and former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affaris;
— Ronald Nelson, executive board chairman of Avis Budget Group and former co-COO of DreamWorks SKG; and
— Nicole Seligman, former president of Sony Entertainment and Sony Corp. of America.
An attorney, Seligman previously represented President Bill Clinton and Lt. Col. Oliver North.
“The newly elected directors have deep experience in corporate governance of public companies and will provide valuable expertise to Viacom in the areas of media, entertainment and technology,” according to a statement from National Amusements.
The company noted that none of the appointees are affiliated with National Amusements, Viacom or any Redstone family trust.
The 93-year-old Redstone’s health and mental capacity have been the subject of a court battle over control of his health care, raising questions about his ability to make decisions over his well-being. It has also led to questions about the leadership of Viacom. Redstone has been publicly critical of the board of directors for Viacom, which oversees Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV.
Redstone and his daughter, Shari, remain on the Viacom board.
— Wire reports